Pleased to share news today that Growing Community Media, the nonprofit entity that publishes the Forest Park Review and three other community newspapers, has received a loan from the U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program.
PPP is an initiative aimed at supporting small businesses and their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic shutdown which has resulted.
The loan amount is $242,500, an amount calculated based on GCM’s payroll. The loan was made through Byline Bank. Under terms of the federal program, portions of the loan used to fund payroll, rent and utilities over the next 60 days can be forgiven. The balance of the loan will have to repaid over time at a 1-percent rate of interest.
We are appreciative of this funding at a time when advertising revenue, our most important revenue source, has been decimated by the pandemic’s direct impact on local businesses. We thank local merchants and nonprofits that have continued to share their messages with readers through our print and digital news channels.
And, as we come up this July on our company’s 40th anniversary, we assure our many friends and partners in local business that we will be there for them as we all gradually and safely reopen our lives into what will be a changed world.
We continue working hard to tell our readers that we need them to help pay for our independent community journalism. Whether that is a print subscription or a digital membership, we will thrive in the mid-term only if readers pay their share.
It is gratifying that only a few months into our new nonprofit incarnation that nearly 1,000 organizations and individuals have signed on as donors and digital members.
And, we will intensify our efforts to bring more donors and foundations into our cause of providing the essential glue in each of our seven neighborhoods.
This PPP loan is a critical bridge for us. But we still need to build the road on the far side of that bridge. It is a new road, different from the one that has brought us through nearly 40 years. Like all of our colleagues in local journalism we are inventing this road even as we drive it.
While we are grateful for this PPP loan, it does not feel entirely natural for a newspaper to accept a loan/grant from the federal government. The founders of this great nation intended it to have a free press. It is separate from government, and actively adversarial. When earned, there is a respectful tension with that government.
That said, this is an extraordinary and difficult moment. Be assured that we are aware of our responsibility to serve as a watchdog on local government and will, to the best of our ability and resources, continue to fill that key role.
Our thanks to each of you in these hard days.
Dan Haley, publisher
Growing Community Media